UPDATED: Hubbard County in watch area: Freezing rain, snow, near-blizzard conditions possible as major winter storm heads in
The first major winter storm of 2013 could drop 6 to 10 inches of snow by the weekend in the Devils Lake Basin, the northern Red River Valley, and western Minnesota while areas to the south could see rain and freezing rain.
That's according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks, which placed all of North Dakota and most of northwest Minnesota under a winter storm watch starting Thursday night and into Saturday morning.
While it's too early to predict the exact path of the storm yet, conditions are expected to start deteriorating by late Thursday afternoon or evening, with the potential for a major winter storm for Friday into early Saturday.
"The way it's looking right now, Thursday's going to be a fairly nice day," said Jennifer Ritterling, a meteorologist with the weather service's Grand Forks office. "From what we can see right now, Thursday night into Saturday morning don't look too good."
Here's what's in store, according to the agency's forecast Wednesday afternoon:
Freezing rain and ice: A storm from the south is expected to bring precipitation into southeastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota Thursday night. Some of it will be in the form of freezing rain and ice accumulation is possible, mainly south and east of a line stretching from Cooperstown, N.D., to Grand Forks to Hallock, Minn.
Park Rapids, Bemidji and Detroit Lakes, Minn., could see ice accumulations close to a quarter inch.
Snow: At the same time, a storm from the west is expected to bring snow starting in the Devils Lake Basin Thursday night and spreading south and east. By Friday night, it'll be cold enough that the whole storm watch area could see snow.
The heaviest accumulation could be in an area from Devils Lake to Roseau, Minn., with 8 to 10 inches possible. To the south as far as a line from Valley City, N.D., to Bemidji, there could be 6 to 8 inches of snow.
Strong winds are expected Friday night with near-blizzard conditions, with visibility reduced to a half or even a quarter mile. The strongest winds will mainly be from the Red River Valley westward.
This is the Park Rapids forecast:
Today Increasing clouds, with a high near 40. Breezy, with a south wind 17 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.
Tonight Rain or freezing rain likely. Cloudy, with a low around 31. South southeast wind 8 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New ice accumulation of 0.1 to 0.3 of an inch possible.
Friday Snow and freezing rain likely, mainly after noon. Cloudy, with a high near 33. South wind 5 to 7 mph becoming east in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New ice accumulation of 0.1 to 0.3 of an inch possible. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Friday Night Snow. Low around 9. East southeast wind 6 to 11 mph becoming west 12 to 17 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Saturday A 40 percent chance of snow. Cloudy, with a high near 9. West northwest wind 13 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Saturday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -11.
Sunday Partly sunny, with a high near 6.
Sunday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around -11.
Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 5.
Monday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -7.
Tuesday Partly sunny, with a high near 14.
Tuesday Night A slight chance of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 1.
Wednesday A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 16.